Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE)

Raising the flag at Atlas Cove, Heard Island on 26 December 1947
Raising the flag at Atlas Cove, Heard Island on 26 December 1947 (Photo: David Eastman)
Mawson's BANZARE party at Proclamation IslandPhil Law, circa 1956

To capitalise on the achievements of BANZARE, plans turned towards the establishment of permanent Antarctic stations which could support further exploratory work as well as conduct meteorological and other studies. Wilkins' ship Wyatt Earp was purchased by the government to support these proposals, but progress in Australian exploration had to be deferred with the outbreak of the Second World War.

Exploration after World War 2

Australian interest in Antarctica revived after the War.

The immediate interest was in Antarctic meteorology and in 1947 a number of reconnaissance flights were conducted over the Southern Ocean but the principal aim was to establish permanent scientific stations on the Antarctic continent.

As a result of representations to the government by Sir Douglas Mawson an inter-departmental committee recommended, in December 1946, that firm commitment be made to an Antarctic expedition.

The government then moved quickly to approve the immediate establishment of meteorological and scientific research stations on Heard Island and Macquarie Island and the use of Wyatt Earp to reconnoitre a site for a permanent station on the Antarctic continent.

ANARE is born

To coordinate preparations for the work an Executive Planning Committee was established in May 1947, with Sir Douglas Mawson as advisor. Group Captain Stuart Campbell, who had been in charge of BANZARE flying operations, was appointed chief executive officer of the expedition, which in August 1947 was given the formal title, Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE). Dr Phillip Law, a physics lecturer from the University of Melbourne, was appointed to plan and organise the scientific program.

In the first season of ANARE, using the naval vessel LST 3501, stations were established on Heard Island, in December 1947, and at Macquarie Island, in March 1948.

Meanwhile, under Karl Oom's command, Wyatt Earp sailed south to find a site for a continental station. Although weather and ice conditions prevented the small ship from reaching the coast, the voyage achieved some of its scientific aims, notably in Law's cosmic ray research. However, it was clear that Wyatt Earp was not suitable for the work planned for ANARE and another six years were to pass before securing the Kista Dan, a vessel adequate for the task.

Despite not achieving the continental part of the program, the first expedition was deemed a success and the government resolved to put ANARE on a permanent footing. ANARE embraced the activities in Antarctica of both government and non-government bodies and individuals, with a central focus on scientific research. Its membership includes:

  • Australian government agencies involved with Antarctic research, including the Antarctic Division itself, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Geological Survey Organisation, the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
  • Non-government organisations, including Australian universities and other research institutions as well as foreign research organisations.